• Services

    From tree to textile, our wovens are created by hand and reflect the heritage

    and natural beauty of Uganda.

    Through partners in Uganda, we work directly with craftspeople to produce contemporary designs with plaited palm leaf, bark cloth, and woven natural fibers.

    Bespoke Textile Design

    Trained as a textile artist and weaver, Lesli can create custom designs using indigenous fibers and techniques. She experiments at the intersection of fine art and design, exploring new materials and applications.

    Photo: Artisan group, Bukomansibmi, Uganda

    Residential and Hospitality

    Each textile is created by hand, traceable to an individual maker, place, and tradition. Our yardage can be translated into wall coverings, veneers, or anything you can envision.

    Dar Hamad Restaurant, Kuwait City, Kuwait

    Design and Product Collaboration

    ​We love collaborating and helping you achieve a new vision for your work using materials that are textured, beautiful, and based in nature.

    Image, Rachel Elise + Mekeka Designs

  • Plaited Palm Leaf

     

    Available up to 1 meter wide and custom lengths

    UV Inhibitor and Flame retardant available

     

    Our yardage can be used for wall coverings, furniture inlay and overlays, home goods, and more.

    [*Not tested for outdoor use.]

     

    Plaited palm leaf has been a part of the textiles of Uganda for generations. Women have practiced the art of Mikeeka (this is where the name Mekeka Designs was inspired!), weaving numerous complex patterns in an array of colors. We acknowledge that these designs are not developed by Mekeka Designs, and are fully credited to the extraordinary weavers who have continued to practice this craft tradition throughout Uganda.

    Biri Biri

    Biri Biri literally translates as "two, two" and is one of the first words I learned in Lugandan. It describes the beautiful twill pattern that emerges through the plaiting technique.

     

    Size:

    Width: approx 36"

    Length: can be seamlessly joined as needed for the desired length

     

    Details:

    Hand plaited palm leaf. Sun-dried and hand stripped to 1/8" widths for plaiting.

     

    Care:

    The palm leaf has a natural water-resistant surface and can be easily cleaned with a cloth and water.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand.

     

    Jiri

    Jiri is a beautiful variation on plain weave. It has a slight disrupted pattern at the edge of each strip before it is joined together. It traditionally is made with two colors, but we altered the colorways to create this subtle pattern.

     

    Size:

    Width: approx 36"

    Length: can be seamlessly joined as needed for the desired length

     

    Details:

    Hand plaited palm leaf. Sun-dried and hand stripped to 1/8" widths for plaiting.

     

    Care:

    The palm leaf has a natural water-resistant surface and can be easily cleaned with a cloth and water.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand.

    Sekamu

    Sekamu translates as "smile."

     

    Size:

    Width: approx 36"

    Length: can be seamlessly joined as needed for the desired length

     

    Details:

    Hand plaited and hand-dyed palm leaf. Sun-dried and hand stripped to 1/8" widths for plaiting.

     

    Care:

    The palm leaf has a natural water-resistant surface and can be easily cleaned with a cloth and water.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand.

    Sekamu 2

    Sekamu translates as "smile." This reverse side of Sekamu is a beautiful zigzag.

     

    Size:

    Width: approx 36"

    Length: can be seamlessly joined as needed for the desired length

     

    Details:

    Hand plaited and hand-dyed palm leaf. Sun-dried and hand stripped to 1/8" widths for plaiting.

     

    Care:

    The palm leaf has a natural water-resistant surface and can be easily cleaned with a cloth and water.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand.

    Shadow

    Size:

    Width: approx 36"

    Length: can be seamlessly joined as needed for the desired length

     

    Details:

    Hand plaited and hand-dyed palm leaf. Sun-dried and hand stripped to 1/4" widths for plaiting.

     

    Care:

    The palm leaf has a natural water-resistant surface and can be easily cleaned with a cloth and water.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand.

    The Process

  • Wovens

     

    Available in 1 meter widths, up to 20 meters long. Because this is handwoven, slight variations are expected.

     

    Contact us to see our woven catalog of over

    25 designs.

     

    The practice of weaving on floor looms was brought to Uganda in the 1970s from Europe. Large 4 harness looms are found throughout Uganda, producing beautifully woven cottons and fibers that create complex surfaces and cloths.

     

    All woven patterns have been developed by Mekeka Designs using only indigenous fibers and materials in the weft.

    No.2

    Clay-dyed bark cloth, banana stem, raffia, cotton

    No.3

    Clay-dyed bark cloth, raffia, cotton

    No.4

    Natural bark cloth, raffia, cotton

    No.5

    Natural bark cloth, cotton

    No.6

    Natural bark cloth, raffia, cotton

    No.7

    Natural bark cloth, raffia, banana stem, cotton

  • Bark Cloth

    Available in 1 meter to 2 meter widths and up to 3 meters long.

    Because this comes directly from individual trees, sizes will vary.

     

    Ugandan bark cloth, Lubugo, is a complex and beautiful material. The Buganda people of Uganda have been creating this cloth from trees for hundreds of years. It was originally used for clothing, bedding, around the home, and since has evolved to signify the identity of the Buganda, being worn by the Kabaka (king) for ceremonial occasions - this is why it has been referred to as a cloth for kings! It is a sustainable cloth (the tree grows it bark back year after year!) and many Ugandan artists and designers are using this in their contemporary practice.

    Our partners in Uganda ensure each cloth benefits the producer and the environment. They train new makers and are committed to replanting trees for future generations.

    We also love our naturally dyed BLACK bark cloth - sustainably sourced and dyed, and traceable to the maker!

     

    Photo courtesy of Bark Cloth Co-Op, Mananma, Uganda

    Natural Bark Cloth

    Made entirely by hand, using sustainably sourced ficus natalensis bark

     

    Size:

    Because these cloths come from individual trees, contact us for available sizes

     

    Care:

    Use a damp towel on the surface.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand and comes from an individual tree.

    Clay Dyed Bark Cloth

    Made entirely by hand, using sustainably sourced ficus natalensis bark. Hand dyed by burying in local clay for 3-5 days.

     

    Size:

    Because these cloths come from individual trees, contact us for available sizes

     

    Care:

    Use a damp towel on the surface.

     

    Important:

    Slight variations are to be expected and a reminder that each piece is entirely made by hand and comes from an individual tree.

     

    Stripping the Tree

    The bark is carefully removed as not to damage the tree. After 1 year, the bark can be harvested again - for up to 30 years from one tree. Kalisizo, Uganda.

    Pounding the bark

    Expert bark cloth maker, Vincent, is using his nnsamu mallet on a newly stripped piece of bark in his outdoor workshop. Bukomansimbi, Uganda.

    Dyeing Bark Cloth, Step 1

    In the surrounding swamps, waterlogged soils are used as dye vats for the bark cloth.

    Dyeing Bark Cloth, Step 2

    The bark cloth is covered with clay and left for several days - the longer the time, the darker the color.

    Dyeing Bark Cloth, Step 3

    The tannins present in the bark react with the iron-rich clay creating the perfect lightfast natural black dye.

    Bark Cloth: Final Step

    Both the dyed and natural bark cloth are dried in the sun. Any small tears are carefully stitched with raffia, creating even more of a reminder that each piece is made entirely by hand.

    From Tree Bark to Textile

  • Gallery

  • About

    Through working closely with textile producers in Uganda, Mekeka Designs offers a curated collection of textiles including plaited palm leaf, woven natural fibers, and bark cloth.

     

    We are focused on working with designers and retailers who would like to develop bespoke collections for their clients/customers.

    If you would love to source unique materials for your design ideas, please contact us. We would love to work with you!

     

    As a textile artist and consultant, Lesli Robertson launched Mekeka Designs in a effort to focus on the beauty and value of handcrafted textiles from Uganda. With a background in textile arts, international project development, and research, she spend numerous summers working in Uganda on promoting and preserving textile traditions with her Ugandan partners. She found a passion for these textiles, and now has launched Mekeka Designs. She and her partners in Uganda are excited to bring you uniquely handcrafted textiles for your home. Visit her site at www.leslirobertson.com.

     

    Thank you for your support!

     

    Lesli Robertson Studio, LLC

     

     

  • Contact Us

    For more information on our products, what is possible, or to request a sample!

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